"I feel like I don't want to be bothered / I feel like you may be the problem / I feel like it ain't no tomorrow, fuck the world / The world is endin', I'm done pretendin' / And fuck you if you get offended," Kendrick Lamar
sings in "FEEL." the fifth track off of his fourth album, DAMN.
These few sentences sum up Lamar's ongoing struggle with humility throughout the record; he's back and he's angry, but it's a different kind of anger opposed to what we heard on 2015's To Pimp A Butterfly.
Before dropping the album, the rapper gave some insight
on what to expect, "TPAB
was addressing the problem. I'm in a space now where I'm not addressing the problem anymore," and he was right. This time, it's much more introspective - he addresses his relationship with God and with himself. He plays a mental game of tug-of-war: one side being modesty, the other side being arrogance. The theme of no one praying for Lamar continues throughout the album on tracks like "ELEMENT." He experiments with unique beats, like on the aforementioned song. Musically it's a bit somber, with an unexpected chord change that gives the chorus a surprisingly sinister twist. Flow-wise, Lamar goes back to his old school Good Kid, M.A.A.D City
days ("DNA." and "DUCKWORTH.") while making us nostalgic for TPAB
with "LUST." and "PRIDE." And it's no mistake that "PRIDE." and "HUMBLE." are back to back on the album. Over bright guitar strums, Lamar admits, "I can't fake humble just 'cause your asses insecure,"
but then on "HUMBLE." he contradicts himself, creating a compelling inner battle, "sit down, be humble."
He calls out FOX News' Geraldo Rivera more than once. On "YAH." he says, "Fox News wanna use my name for percentage,"
and later on adds, "Somebody tell Geraldo this n***a got ambition."
On "DNA." he samples Rivera who once said, "hip-hop has done more damage to African Americans than racism in recent years."
It's no secret we've put Lamar on a pedestal. One of the tallest pedestals ever - and not just as a musician, but as a political figure. Now, Lamar is fighting himself - and his mind is a dark battlefield.